The evolution of the casino industry has an interesting past, and a promising future. It’s unlikely you came here for a history lesson on gambling itself, so we’ll spare you that essay – but know that gambling houses have existed in many ancient civilizations, like the Greeks, Chinese and Romans.
Details are scarce on those earliest forms of gambling houses. However, it is known that the earliest European gambling house was the Ridotto in Venice, Italy, around 1638.
In this article, we’re going to explore the rise of gambling houses into modern casinos, the rise of digital online casinos like Casumo and others, and what future technology holds for the casino industry.
The first Casinos
In the United States, most of the earliest gambling houses were found in New Orleans, until anti-gambling legislature gave rise to riverboat casinos. These were literally casinos-on-boats, since the waters of the Mississippi were unregulated.
As people started to strike west for gold, saloons started popping up in the wild west, where card games like poker were most popular. You’re most likely familiar with the most popular Poker variation, Texas Hold’em.
The first official casino to open its doors in Las Vegas, Nevada was the Golden Gate casino, in 1906. It still operates today, in fact. Interestingly, gambling and casinos weren’t yet officially legal in the United States – yet casino developers were flocking to Las Vegas, perhaps because of its desert frontier status. They were gambling (pun intended) on being left alone, for the most part.
These early illegal casino operations in Las Vegas inevitably attracted criminal investment. Throughout the 1920s, some of the most feared Italian Mafia figures, such as Bugsy Siegel, Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello, and Meyer Lansky played integral roles in the development of Las Vegas. These mobsters had become immensely wealthy through bootlegging, during the alcohol prohibition era.
Many mafia families were already running gambling outfits in the United States, but legal pressure was rising, and Las Vegas was seen as a promising future, as the wild west had a much more tolerant view of gambling (though not officially legal yet).
Nevada officially legalized gambling in 1931, to provide an additional (legal) form of revenue for the state, during the Great Depression. However, growth was pretty slow in the beginning due to low population in the state itself. It wasn’t until the 1950s, when average Americans had a lot more money thanks to the economic boom following World War 2, that Las Vegas started rapidly developing into the “gambling capital of the world” it is today.
The Rise of Online Casinos
While gambling software had been in development throughout the early 90s, the first online casino to accept a real money wager was Intercasino, in 1996. Soon after, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission was formed to license and regulate online casinos.
Despite numerous hurdles over the years, such as the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act) being passed in 2006, online casinos have become a mainstream global success. 85 countries have legalized online gambling.
As technology advances, online casinos have offered a significant edge over traditional casinos. The ability to play multiple Poker tables at the same time, for example. Most online casinos also offer bonuses for signing up, and daily prizes.
How casinos have evolved with technology
Traditional casinos have been embracing modern technology to remain competitive with online casinos. Online casinos haven’t fully replaced traditional land-based casinos because there’s still the thrill of rolling the dice, holding the cards, and just enjoying the overall casino atmosphere. However, traditional casinos are integrating more technology into their operations to remain attractive in the modern age.
One example is the use of live dealers for online players. An online player can join a game being hosted in a land-based casino, and interact with the dealer via webcam and integrated software. This adds the human element missing from online casinos, and actually makes many players feel safer regarding the fairness of the games.
For technological advancements, however, online casinos clearly remain at an advantage. Online casinos these days are embracing technology such as VR, 3D gameplay, and new methods of payment such as cryptocurrency.
AR (augmented reality) could also be a future advancement for online casinos, allowing for a totally 360-degree gambling experience via mobile apps.